In the first 2022 meeting between the Riverview High and Sarasota High on Oct. 28, the Rams won 14-0.
On Friday night, in the postseason rematch, the Rams matched that total in the first quarter.
Riverview (5-6) used a stingy defensive effort and a balanced offensive attack to get out to a lead over the Sailors (5-5) and never relinquished it, walking away with a 28-7 victory.
The Rams got on the board following an interception of Sailors junior quarterback Mike Bendever by defensive back Lauriel "Scoota" Trotman, which Trotman returned to the Sailors' 20-yard line. Rams sophomore DJ Johnson would end the drive with a goal line plunge for a touchdown. Riverview would add another score before the quarter was up thanks to junior Charles Lester III turning a screen pass into a 53-yard touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Sailors could not get their running attack — their most consistent element in 2022 — going at a productive clip. Sailors Coach Brody Wiseman said the lack of success had nothing to do with scheme and that the Riverview defensive front just executed better.
“It’s playoff football," Wiseman said. "If you don’t come out and execute you’re gonna get beat."
In the second half, Riverview faced a 4th and 10 from the Sailors' 11-yard line. Rams Coach Josh Smithers said he considered kicking a field goal to make it a 17-0 game, but was worried about his special teams unit's ability to fend off Sailors rushers. Instead, Smithers and his staff went deep into their bag of tricks. They had junior quarterback throw another screen pass to Lester — who this time did not sprint upfield but turned and threw the ball again himself. The pass found senior tight end Luke Petitta open in the end zone for a touchdown. Smithers praised Petitta not just for the catch, but his overall play Friday night after spending much of the week ill.
In the fourth quarter, Sarasota would get on the board when Bendever found senior wideout Tyler Pack for a 19-yard touchdown pass. The Rams would regain their 21-point advantage when Dawson found senior wideout Marshall Thompson in the back of the end zone. Thompson made the catch over multiple defenders and tapped his feet inbounds while falling out of bounds.
The Rams have won 12 -straight games between the two teams. Riverview will have another rivalry rematch next week in the Class 4S regional finals when it plays Venice High (7-3) on the road. The Indians beat Lehigh High 39-0 on Friday. Venice won the season's first matchup with the Rams 31-21 on Oct. 21.
Mooney season ends
Elsewhere on Friday night, Cardinal Mooney High football's season came to an end with a 38-7 loss to John Carroll Catholic on the road. The Cougars (4-7) kept things close in the first half, with the game featuring a 7-7 tie at halftime, but could not continue that level of play in the second half.